If there is one species of butterfly that gets the lepidotera-philes scales to stand up on end, it’s the juniper hairstreak, Callophrys g. gryneus. When I run into folks on the Edge that are seeking out butterfly species, the juniper hairstreak is always on the top of the list. And usually, it is a butterfly that is seen uncommonly. In fact, I usually see this small butterfly only a handful of times each year. But the last 2 years, I have been observing a plant called rattlesnake master, Eryngium yuccifolium, growing along the sidewalk to the Eulett Center, and have been amazed at the species diversity that feeds/visits this plant, one of which is the juniper hairstreak. I would say this plant is mis-named as I have never seen a rattlesnake around the plant, but it sure attracts hairstreaks. Now granted, the Eulett Center is surrounded by numerous Eastern red cedar trees, Juniperus virginiana, the host plant of the juniper hairstreak’s caterpillar, but the numbers of juniper hairstreak's this year has been phenomenal.
|Juniper hairstreak on rattlesnake master, avoiding the white-banded crab spider, Misumenoides formosipes on the left.|
|Numerous juniper hairstreaks on rattlesnake master|
|Notice the green scales on the wings of our only "green" butterfly.|
This plant is incredibly fun to watch blooming in July to see how many flies, wasps, beetles, spiders, moths, bees etc. land on its many flowers. Below are some interesting species seen visiting rattlesnake master.
|Great black wasp, Sphex pennsylvanicus|
|Black and yellow lichen moth, Lycomorpha pholus|
|Juniper hairstreak near striped lynx spider, Oxyopes salticus|
|Spotted thyris moth, Thyris maculata|
|Myzinum wasp, Myzinum sp.|
|A potter wasp, Monobia quadridens|
|A paper wasp, Polistes exclamans|
Posted by: Mark Zloba